"Release"

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"No, I am not the vocalist for Fine Young Cannibals!"



As the “X-Files” comes to a close, it is becoming more and more obvious that the early cancellation of this season took the heart and spirit out of the writing staff. The episodes since “Audrey Pauley” have been an exercise of inconsistency, and with only two episodes remaining before the final end credits roll, it would appear that ending the series on a strong note is too much to ask.

Now granted, I should have known better than to think that 1013 would be able to wrap up John Doggett’s search for his son’s killer in any reasonable fashion. After all, starting with the ominous hints in last season’s “Invocation”, this little plot thread had all the hallmarks of a long-term, seriously nasty tale. Last season’s “Empedocles” took those hints and set us on that very track, and more than a few episodes since have given us the impression that Luke’s killer would turn out to be anything but human.

So, of course, the killer turns out to be a mob enforcer. Maybe.

I say maybe, because in the typical 1013 style, the resolution to this little mystery just doesn’t make any sense. And I mean that sincerely. Taking what was a perfectly good and potentially very interesting conflict against an ancient and pervasive evil, something that has targeted John Doggett for some reason as was suggested in “Daemonicus”, and shelving it for a needless tie to organized crime is just a travesty. It is no wonder, then, that John Shiban and David Amann are the ones responsible for this mess.

The episode begins well enough. Doggett has been tipped off about a murder in a dark and shabby apartment building, and when he arrives, he finds that a body has been past into the plaster of a repaired wall. When Scully autopsies the body, an oddly perceptive cadet in her forensics class makes observations about the cause of death that are uncanny…and link the murder to another recent crime.

Before long, Doggett is practically begging this cadet to look into the murder of his son, hoping for a similar miracle. Now, let’s not forget that this is the same man who nearly put Fox Mulder through a wall for even touching the file on Luke. Sure, it’s possible that his recent experiences have led him to accept a possibly paranormal explanation for Luke’s death, but if he were going to take that route, why not speak to Monica about it? Why some stranger that, quite frankly, looks like he’s trying to do his very best “Sixth Sense” audition?

In due time, we discover that not only does this Cadet Hayes have insight into Luke’s murder, but he has thousands of pictures of dead people tacked to his wall. Among them…in the middle of one wall…are pictures of the discovery of Luke Doggett’s body. Now, here’s the thing. If I’m John Doggett, why the hell would I let this guy go any farther than this moment, when he blurts out that he’s getting messages about Luke’s death by staring at pictures of murder victims?

“Hello, psych ward? Yeah..this is Special Agent John Doggett. I’ve got a pickup in Apartment 2D…”

It gets even better. While Cadet Haley Joel Osment is flipping out while staring at dead people, Doggett goes to the Assistant Director for help. Sure, make sense, right? Except he goes to AD Follmer for the help, which makes no sense whatsoever when you consider just how hostile they’ve been to one another. Apparently, at the same time as Luke Doggett’s death, Follmer was running the Organized Crime Unit in NYC. You see, the Cadet Hayes has told Doggett that the same suspect in the recent murders is Luke’s killer, and this guy Rigalli was a mob enforcer.

Now, this is what doesn’t make any sense to me. First of all, Follmer never recognized Doggett earlier in the season, which he ought to have done if he was in New York City at the time of Luke’s murder. And Monica had to be there, because she was assigned to the case…her first assigned case, if we listen to “Empedocles”. OK, good…except Luke was said to have died in 1997. Still works, of course, except for the bit about Doggett joining the FBI in 1995.

Well, OK, great…let’s say that it is 1997. That fits all of the other references that Follmer and Monica have made in terms of their careers and locations. Now, though, we’re told that Luke died in August 1993…four years earlier. Now, some of those comments don’t quite make as much sense. That would have placed Monica Reyes, an agent barely arrived at 30 years old, as assigned to the Luke Doggett murder case at the age of 21.

For me, this just goes to show how little 1013 regards internal continuity. First, Doggett leaves the NYPD for the FBI in the wake of Luke’s death, so it was supposedly 1995. Then, they go completely against Doggett’s own records in “Within” to say, point blank, that Luke was killed in 1997. Now, it’s suddenly 1993. That’s a four year difference, and that’s just unforgivable.

Now that there is a suspect, one that Doggett inexplicably believes is a solid lead, he calls in his ex-wife to view a line-up, to see if the man was present the day Luke was abducted. Sure enough, she doesn’t recognize him. It’s clear that this kind of thing has happened before, enough times that Barb left John because of the effect Luke’s death had on the marriage.

There’s a bit more digging, and suddenly it’s revealed that Monica broke off her relationship with Follmer because she saw him taking graft from a mob man…and sure enough, Follmer’s being shaken down regularly by none other than Mr. Rigalli. At the same time, Follmer is the only one bright enough to actually check the credentials of Cadet Hayes. And who does Hayes turn out to be? Some schizophrenic from Minnesota who was in the area when Luke was killed, began obsessing over the murder, and joined the FBI specifically to find a way to help Doggett.

So on top of the massive continuity glitches, we know are told that not only did Monica fail to report a superior’s breach of ethics, probably to save her own ass because she was involved in a relationship with the slimeball, but she requested an assignment to New Orleans to break it off without saying anything to Follmer about it. Yeah, that’s the kind of agent I want uncovering conspiracies and digging for the truth!

And beyond that, we are supposed to believe that John Doggett, detective in the NYPD and then rapidly rising star in the NYPD, failed to ever consider that his son might have been killed by someone connected to organized crime. Let’s keep in mind that Doggett never once suspected that Luke’s death might have been connected to the paranormal, so why not look into one of the most obvious sources for the killing of the son of an NYPD detective? Especially one who has said, repeatedly, that his work had him running counter to organized crime?

Of course, Follmer confronts Rigalli now, and the man denies that he killed Doggett’s son. Follmer apparently can read the writing on the wall, though, because it’s fairly obvious at this point that Rigalli either killed Luke or had him killed. Again, let’s ignore that Luke was chosen by the man possessed by ancient evil. Let’s focus on the ridiculous mob killing. You see, as we soon discover when Rigalli outlines it for Doggett, Bob Harvey (the aforementioned possessed man) chose Luke because he was into little boys. It just so happened that Harvey was also in business with Rigalli, and Rigalli happened to walk in on Harvey defiling Luke. Luke saw Rigalli’s face, so that was that.

Sure, fine, whatever. So the mob enforcer didn’t use standard mob killing techniques on Luke, is that it? Oh, and I suppose that now that he has effectively heard Rigalli admit that he had Luke killed, or killed him, or whatever, he can just ignore the whole “Bob Harvey as Satan” part of the incident.

As any good father is willing to do, Doggett pulls his gun and is ready to kill Rigalli right then and there. But because Follmer is having his own little moment of revelation, he kills Rigalli first. Which means that Doggett never actually gets his just vengeance against his son’s murderer. But hey, that’s apparently no big deal, right? Close enough for government work. Soon enough, John and Barb are releasing Luke’s ashes into the sea off what I think is supposed to be Long Island, though it doesn’t quite look the part.

Scully just about breezes through this episode, showing very little involvement in the proceedings, despite the fact that a supposed friend is going through hell (for the fifth time this season). Monica is very ill served, with very little to do, other than come off very badly in her dealings with Follmer. But Doggett suffers the most damage here, because he loses all of his usual skepticism as soon as Hayes walks in the door. Why he would choose to trust a perfect stranger over Monica, I don’t know. And I suspect it was just to come up with a way to confuse things once Hayes was revealed as an imposter.

We have no idea what’s going to happen to Follmer, but odds are, he’s out of the picture. So in short order, the writers for 1013 have killed off the Lone Gunmen, adopted off William, sent Follmer to prison, and given Doggett some kind of supposed closure. So I guess they’ve only got Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Kersh left to deal with.

Can anyone, at this point, feel assured that those characters will be given more respectful consideration?

Some other thoughts:

- My parents first home address, when I was young, was 1161…same as the street number in the teaser. And I grew up in Woodbury, NJ. Barb Doggett lives in Woodbury, NY. Bizarre how these things happen, hmm?

- Loved the music in this episode. Very evocative.

- At least it was directed well. Kim Manners, as usual, makes even the worst writing look good.

- Wasn’t that maggot-infested arm a lovely treat?

- “I see things.” Oh, like for instance…dead people?

- “Kinda annoying, isn’t he?” That’s one way of putting it!

- Nice shot up the Great Wall O’ Death, especially with the music swirling at the same time.

- As much as Hayes reminded me of the kid in “The Sixth Sense”, there was a certain Frank Black quality there as well.

- Why would the agents be questioning a murder suspect in the middle of a bar?

- 1993? Sure, it fits the records from “Within”, but the nice thing about “Empedocles” is that it gave us lots of detail, rather than Doggett’s formal record and assumptions.

- Never mind that the way the FBI is run on this show, I wouldn’t trust a God-damned thing in their files…

- Doggett’s story, especially how Luke was riding his bike, is a good linkage to “John Doe”. It lends credence to the idea that John’s memories in that episode were very close to Luke’s final days.

- “Cadet…you should know, there’s a good chance you’re nuts…”

- Anyone else notice that Doggett has the symbol from “The Gift” tacked up behind him when he’s sitting at the desk in the basement office?

- The shot of the SWAT team in the hallway, again with that music, was very well-done.

- Robert Patrick sells that final scene, not doubt about it.

- Quote from the promo for next week’s episode: “Awwww crap!” You said it, buddy.

Overall, this episode made about as much sense as “Underneath” or “Jump the Shark”. It was entirely inappropriate for John Doggett’s struggle to end with someone else’s actions. If this is the way the series is going to end, then I have to say, my hopes for a rousing finale are dwindling.

I give it a 4/10.


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